Thursday, January 1, 2009

Fania Makes Amends

Tzipi Livni flicked back her golden locks, eyeballed her fellow ministers, and spake thus: 'Listen up, you lot. The plan's ready and we're hot to trot. Ahem... for G-d's sake, contain yourself, Ehud... No, not you Olmert, the other one, Barak. Boys! They can't sit still for a minute. Now before we roll, we've got to get our lines straight. We simply cannot afford any running off at the mouth at this time, OK? Yeah, that's right, I'm talking about you, Matan - that shit about doing a Shoah on Gaza earlier this year was simply unforgivable! So consider yourself warned. And that goes for the rest of you.

'Now, to sell the hanging, drawing & quartering of Gaza to all those bleeding hearts out there, we've got to hit the right note, know what I mean? We can't just say, hey, it's election time and we need to show the punters, who look like they're getting the hots for Netanyahu, that we've got the balls to indulge in a bit of good old boots-n-all, Irgun-style ethnic cleansing; we can't just say, well, if Abbas, Dahlan and the Yanks - useless bastards, the lot of 'em - can't clean up the Strip for us, then we'll just have to do it ourselves; we can't just say, well, we got our ass kicked in Lebanon in 2006, it's now time to regain our street cred in Gaza; and we sure as hell can't just say we're doing it because it's fun - which it is, know what I mean? - and we want to see flies walking across their eyeballs. I mean, OK, we've gotten away so far with keeping these Spawn of Amalek on starvation rations and wading in every so often with a big stick, but how's the world going to react when we unleash our planned Shock-&-Awe? What? Some of you have a problem with my language? Spawn of Amalek? Listen, we're going to need every single vote - and that includes the settler vote - so from now on it's Spawn of Satan, sorry, Amalek, in Hebrew, and Palestinians in English, OK?

'Now we need a pretext, something that our legions of faithful propagandists out there can trot out to divert the world long enough for our objectives to be realised. In a word, it's Sderot, our very own, made-to-measure, pilgrimage site, our Alamo, our Stalingrad! And here are the talking points: Hamas terrorists, direct descendents of the Nazi hordes, have been laying into poor, battered Sderot with the most ferocious arsenal of WMDs ever concocted since Saddam's. These WMDs are found in every nook and cranny of every house in Gaza. In schools, in hospitals, in mosques. In the pockets of children. In women's purses and handbags. Nooks, crannies, houses, schools, hospitals, mosques, pockets, purses, and handbags have all been stuffed to the brim with WMDs by Hamas terrorists! They are all now terrorist infrastructure! Get the picture? And the poor, battered citizens of Sderot just can't take it any more. What's that Ehud? No, not you, Barak, the other one, Olmert. The never-ending conga-line of foreign journalists and politicians? Very funny! Now settle down all of you and focus, this is serious. Where was I? Right, the poor, battered folk of Sderot are crying out to their government for protection. Their walls and rooves are rent. Their patience spent. Their nerves - er - what rhymes with rent and spent? What? They live in tents? Very funny. Anyway, they just can't take it anymore, and neither can we! No government anywhere could possibly tolerate such an assault on its people, OK? We have a duty to defend our citizens against the WMD swarms coming our way from the fortified bastions of Amalek in Gaza. We've been patient enough. We've agonised over their women and kids, even though every one of them has ticking bombs - sorry, rockets - coming out of his ears, but, ever so reluctantly, with the heaviest of hearts, with dragging feet, we are forced to defend ourselves. Got it? Good! Now go forth and spin!'

Meanwhile, as the latest variant of the government's talking points hit the in-boxes of the faithful, one particular zealot in far off Australia felt under greater pressure than most to get it right - this time. You see, Fania Oz-Salzberger, "the Leon Liberman Chair in Modern Israel Studies at the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilization, Monash University" no less, had made a dreadful faux pas back in January in The Age no less. This is what she'd let slip: "The truth must be said, and in the Israeli public sphere it is said loud and clear: Gaza is immensely worse off than Sderot. Israeli children in the western Negev face a daily routine of sirens and near-miss explosions. Yet Sderot's kids have food, medical care and holidays away from it all. Their parents can choose to leave, and most of them proudly opt to stay. Children in the Gaza Strip get none of those benefits." (No easy solution while Hamas keeps warring, 27/1/08*)

[See my 11/2/08 post Rotem's Revenge]

Dear, oh dear! Anyway, Fania felt that now was a golden opportunity to make amends and do her bit for the war effort. And you know what, she succeeded admirably. Check this out: "Imagine your next-door neighbour - with whom you have had a long and bloody feud - pulling out a gun and shooting into your windows from his own lounge room, which is densely packed with women and children. In fact, he's holding his daughter on his lap as he claims he will not stop till your family is dead. Police are unavailable. What should you do? One option is to do nothing, or little. You try this for a while. After all, your neighbour is poor and traumatised, and you must bear some of the blame. Finally, as one shot hits your bedroom, you decide that enough is enough. You pull out your far superior gun. You attempt a surgical strike: aim at the shooter's head, try to spare the innocents. In an abstract sense, this is what Israel is doing. But there is nothing surgical about the blood and agony that has engulfed Gaza since Saturday. Try as it might to target militants alone, Israel cannot achieve this. Civilian bodies are being pulled out of the rubble of military bases - because, like our metaphorical gunman's home, militants and civilians inhabit the same urban space in the Gaza Strip. Gaza City and Rafah are towns doubling as army camps. Fighters train next to schools and rockets are stored in the basements of multi-story family homes." (The tragedy when a regime uses its citizens as tools of war, 31/12/08)

Not bad, eh?

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